FORT KNOX, KENTUCKY (Feb. 18, 2016) — Senior Army leaders addressed the future of the Army and the critical role that U.S. Army Recruiting Command will play in shaping the force during the Annual Leaders Training Conference at Fort Knox, Kentucky, Feb. 9 to 11.
Archive for February, 2016
RICHMOND, Va. – If a sexual assaulted victim ends up at the emergency room of a Richmond area hospital, chances are the hospital will call a victim advocate affiliated with The Regional Hospital Accompaniment Response Team to help that victim.
Congratulations to the U.S. Army Quartermaster School’s 2015 Instructor of the Year, Staff Sgt. Jasmin Joyner, Joint Culinary Training Center.
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 18, 2016) — “The message is that STEP is important, and if you want to get promoted, you’ve got to get to school,” said Command Sgt. Maj. David S. Davenport Sr.
Davenport, who serves as the command sergeant major of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, or TRADOC, spoke during a media roundtable, Feb. 17.
STEP stands for “select, train, educate, promote,” and on Jan. 1, it became the roadmap that noncommissioned officers must follow if they want to be promoted.
STEP requirements for promotion are as follows:
— To make sergeant, Soldiers must complete the Basic Leader Course, formally known as the Warrior Leader Course.
— To make staff sergeant, sergeants must complete the Advanced Leader Course.
— To make sergeant first class, staff sergeants must complete the Senior Leader Course.
— To make master sergeant or first sergeant, sergeants first class must complete the Master Leader Course.
— To make sergeant major, master sergeants or first sergeants must complete the Sergeant Major Course.
— Sergeants major and command sergeants major who are selected to work for general officers must additionally complete the Executive Leader Course.
IMPORTANCE OF STEP
The STEP program “will help our noncommissioned officers become even more professional so they can operate as adaptable leaders in the chaotic and complex world as described in the Army Operating Concept,” Davenport said.
The other important aspect of STEP is that it will provide a talent management tool “to retain and promote the best of the best,” he said.
STEP will ensure that “a Soldier’s stripes will not just be an indicator of rank or pay — it will be an indicator that each NCO has been appropriately trained as a leader,” he added.
MAKING THE GRADE
It’s not enough that NCOs just show up for school, Davenport said. They must also display competency in the classroom.
To grade that, Department of the Army Form 1059, “Academic Evaluation Report,” has been “retooled,” he said. “We want to start talking about grade point averages, how students did on their writing assignments,” and so on. Also, there’s room on the form for instructors to write about the student’s “competency attributes while they were in the course.”
The NCOs are not the only ones who must make the grade. So too does the schoolhouse, he said.
“We’re making sure [NCOs] have a first-class experience in the classroom,” he said. “Once we have them in the school house, we have to ensure the [program of instruction] is relevant and that it has some rigor behind it and is taught by first-class instructors.”
To ensure the new Master Leader Course, or MLC, is up to par, Davenport said the Army has conducted two pilot studies and is in the process of starting a third, he said.
The first two pilots were with the Army National Guard and Army Reserve and the third will start next month with the Regular Army, he said. Once the third is complete, the MLC becomes a program of record beginning Oct. 1.
Regarding the pilots thus far, “we’ve gotten great feedback,” he said. “The Soldiers liked the rigor behind it.”
Students actually need to prepare for the class even before they arrive, he said. Soldiers who prepared said they had an edge, he noted.
Soldiers also reported liking the “reflective time” that was provided, he said. While Soldiers are given a lot of material to absorb, and that they will be later tested on, they were also given “time to absorb the material. And then we come together to process it and see how well they retained the information.”
One of the biggest misconceptions regarding MLC is that it’s like the old First Sergeant Course taught at Fort Bliss years ago, he said.
“It’s much more than that,” he said. “We’re helping them transition from that tactical level to the operational level and we’re actually exposing them to some strategic-level thought and experiences. For instance, mission command; what does that really mean and how does it differ from the old command and control?”
STEP ATTENDANCE RECORD
As of last fall, about 14,000 NCOs were “in the black-log,” meaning they were promoted to various grades in the NCO Corps, but had not received their formal PME,” Davenport said.
Since that time, the numbers have improved, with several thousand getting their professional military education (PME), and over time, the backlog should dwindle, he said.
Units need to ensure their Soldiers are slated and ready to go to school, and Soldiers need to ensure their requirements are met, such as physical fitness and so on, so they get in on time, he said.
CLEARING UP A MISCONCEPTION
During his town halls, Davenport said that a popular misconception regarding STEP is that TRADOC “doesn’t have enough capacity to get them in school. We do have the capacity.”
STEP “is the number one thing that comes up in the town halls and I think it was one of the most popular blog entries when we first announced it” last year, he noted, adding that it’s the “most emotional” topic he’s encountered thus far with NCOs.
PME NAME CHANGE
Lastly, Davenport said that the Army announced that the Noncommissioned Officer Education System would be renamed the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development System, or NCOPDS.
NCOPDS reflects a new “organizational framework to develop the next generation of competent and committed NCOs,” Davenport said. “The reason we did that was so the force can understand that it’s more than just the education — it’s the experiences you get doing various jobs, it’s about stepping outside of your comfort zone, taking on a broadening assignment — ranging from drill sergeant to recruiter to working with industry — so it’s changing the entire system.”
U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command will hold the first ever State of NCO Development Town Hall, March 3, from 5-7 p.m. EST. This will be your opportunity to learn the latest on NCO development from leaders and subject matter experts from across TRADOC. Log onto www.tradoc.army.mil/WATCH, use #talk2TRADOC on Twitter or log onto TRADOC’s Facebook page to participate.
My name is CSM Andy Connette, and I am the CSM for the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command. I am grateful for the opportunity that CSM Davenport gave me to share with you just a little about ATEC.
ATEC plans, integrates and conducts experiments, developmental testing, independent operational testing, and independent evaluations and assessments to provide essential information to acquisition decision makers and commanders.
We test everything from mud to space, from rifles to National Missile Defense, and from Nett Warrior to Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, or JLTV. We have a team of about 8,000 Soldiers, civilians and contractors who conduct testing every day across the country, as well as Europe and Panama.
We take the requirements, often generated by TRADOC, and design tests that will create the conditions to evaluate gear and equipment provided by industry against those requirements, providing constant feedback to project managers through developmental testing.
When the system is ready for operational testing, we provide unbiased test results to the Army’s acquisition decision makers. You may have heard recently about Oshkosh being awarded the contract for the future JLTV. ATEC conducted testing that allowed decision makers to select that vendor. Now that single vendor will go through extensive testing through all kinds of environments and conditions. It will get rode hard, shot at, blown up, broken, and repaired before it gets in the hands of a test unit and before a full-rate production decision gets made.
No matter what we are testing, we are working to answer three questions: Is it effective – does it do what is needed? Is it suitable – can Soldiers operate and train with the system and use it in battle? And is it survivable against known threats, including cyber, that it’s meant to defeat or deter – can it perform against the physical and cyber threats?
We have test centers located at White Sands, New Mexico; Dugway, Utah; Fort Huachuca and Yuma, Arizona; Redstone, Alabama and Aberdeen, Maryland,which includes Fort Greely, Arkansas, and our tropic regions testing in Panama. Our U.S. Army Operational Test Command is located at Fort Hood, Texas, and our U.S. Army Evaluation Center is located at Aberdeen along with the ATEC headquarters. We also conduct testing at unit locations on installations across the globe.
While we do conduct testing on future systems, we are also continuously testing current programs of record; e.g., Abrams, Bradley, Stryker, Patriot, Paladin, etc. So every time there has been a new track pad designed or a software upgrade initiated, that system has been going through testing. I laughingly say there has been an M-1 tank doing laps out at Yuma for the last 40 years. The reality is, that is not far from the truth.
Here are a few systems of interest out of the hundreds currently in some phase of testing:
For the aviators and special operators, we are conducting Silent Knight Radar, or SKR testing near Albuquerque, New Mexico, on the MH47G and M60M Spec Ops helicopters. The SKR is a terrain following/terrain avoiding radar that permits low-level flight in various conditions. We have the bulk of the Army’s experimental test pilots in our formation stationed out of Redstone who conduct all of our aviation testing.
For Stryker fans such as myself, we are testing an engineering change proposal on the double vee hull, or DVH Stryker in a cold environment at our Cold Regions Test Center in Alaska. This test is assessing upgrades to the chassis, mechanical power, electrical power and digital backbone.
For the weapons enthusiast, you would be excited to see the M1020 sniper rifle going through test at U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center. This is a modular sniper rifle that has the look and feel of a BMW with the ability to change calibers.
I don’t think a day goes by that Patriot is not going through tests out at White Sands. These tests range from software upgrades to fire control systems to integration as part of the Army Integrated Air and Missile Defense.
I’ll close with this: We are always seeking Soldier involvement in tests, particularly in developmental testing. The feedback from Soldiers who will handle the system is incredibly important and proven to save tremendous cost and time in the development of systems. This ultimately helps get systems into Soldiers’ hands quicker.
Although operational tests are predictable, developmental tests are not, and therefore, it’s difficult for units to be responsive to requests for Soldier support. So if you see or hear about an opportunity, the Army could certainly benefit from your participation and feedback. I hope to see some of you out there pulling triggers on the next handgun, the Modular Handgun, coming soon to a test range near you.
For more information on ATEC, visit our website at http://www.atec.army.mil.
“Truth in Testing”